Discussing the growth of eSports, Intel eSports Marketing Manager George Woo spoke with eSports Pro about how the rise of virtual reality (VR) will affect the scene, events and the future of gaming in general.
In the interview, Woo spoke at length about the coming of age of eSports and the changing landscape. He said: “eSports has grown up a lot – in terms of the viewership and the acceptance that this is an actual a sport for the millennials. This is something that isn’t a hard sell anymore in order to get the investments partners from non-endemic companies, and from sports companies. There’s a lot of dollars coming in fueling the growth of eSports, and it’s very important.”
In addition, eSports has seen significant growth in sponsorship, which Woo addressed the reasons for: “First of all it’s the viewership – last year we had 256 million viewers watching this stuff. That’s supposed to grow to 345 million by 2019. So there’s a huge growth opportunity there.
“You’ve got the communities, the competitions are getting better, more digital platforms like Facebook Live and Twitter – this is all spurring the growth of eSports. And then tech companies like ourselves – we’re learning too. We’re learning how to address those audiences and create those amazing experiences, pushing the boundaries of innovation. And this year is all about VR.”
Woo seems to be a strong believer in the growth of VR games within the eSports area. He went on to say: “We are going to continue to be that leader in VR. Are we going to say we’re going to have eSports in VR next year? No. But what we want to do is get this top of mind, get people experienced with the head units, start with the experience showcases, and the next iteration is broadcast – in which we did League of Legends and CS:GO with Sliver.TV. If people didn’t have the head sets, they can still see in 360. It’s just getting that option rate higher and faster. The more that happens you get AAA titles, titles that might be more conducive towards eSports that the community gets behind.”
Woo spoke of the long-term future of eSports and the involvement with VR, saying he expected to see eSports events with people competing wearing VR headsets in ten years time. He also predicted that the future will be wireless: “They’ll be untethered – not using the traditional mouse and keyboard – because that’s been going on for centuries. We want to change that model, and that’s why we are continuing to push on this, because we know it’s an open canvass and we can change that scope. We want it to be untethered, almost like a laser tag environment. People running around and being physical but in a virtual space.”
Additionally, Woo commented about the non-gaming application of VR and how that may develop; “Gaming is the first thing because it’s eye candy. It gets people’s attention – they want to try it on. But right now, there’s a surgeon in UCLA who’s using it to fight tumours – actually taking tumours out. He can see inside the brain before he even operates. Right now, in 2D, hopefully you get most of it out. But with virtual reality, it enhances it, makes it easier, there’s faster recovery. So it’s much broader than just gaming. “
VRFocus will bring you further updates on VR in eSports when it comes in.